2021 NEW ENGLAND THUNDERBOLT PRIZE
The New England Writers' Centre is proud to announce the winners and commended entries the 2021 New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing, with six prizes and commendations awarded to crime writers from all over Australia.
We extend our thanks to all the authors who submitted their work this year, to our wonderful judges who had the challenge of finding winners amongst so many terrific entries and to our sponsors who make it possible for the NEWC to continue to run this nationally recognised competition and awards.
Click on the links to find out more about the winning authors, read their submissions and the Judges' reports and bios. Enjoy!
"Reunion" by Wayne Strudwick
Sponsored by the New England Writers' Centre
"The Kaarimba Horror" by David Vernon
Sponsored by the New England Brewing Co.,
"The True Ballad of Hester Hosken" by Natalie Prior
Sponsored by the University of New England, Faculty of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education
The New England Award
"Shatter" by Linda Brandon
Sponsored by Golden Orb Creative
The Emerging Authors Award
"Crimes Against Humanity", Xavier Masson-Leach
Sponsored by Burnet's Books
All entries were judged anonymously, and the New England Award and Emerging Author Awards were chosen based on final commendations across all categories.
Highly commended: "Men's Shed" by Scott Hoffman
Commended: "The Dead Girl" by Julianne Negri
Commended: "Not of the Sea" by Barry Divola
Highly Commended: "Dattilo's Vendetta" by Roger Vickery
Commended: "Crimes Against Humanity", Xavier Masson-Leach (Winner, Emerging Authors Award).
Highly commended: "Neverland" by Jenny Blackford
Commended: "Monologue of a Boss" by Margaret Rucker
Highly Commended: "The Lockdown" by Finn Single
Commended: "Wayne's Bread" by Joseph Daniel
Meet the Winners
Wayne Strudwick | Fiction
I grew up on a farm near Coonamble NSW and now live in Canberra with my wife and three children. I work as an optometrist and write short stories in my spare time. I've had a few stories published in magazines and anthologies. My novella 'The Dark Days of Matty Lang' is published by Finlay Lloyd.
David Vernon | Non-Fiction
David Vernon is a writer, editor and publisher. In 2007 he won the non-fiction section of the ACT Writing and Publishing Awards with his book “Men at Birth.” This book, along with “Birth Stories” (Finch 2011) is now in its second edition.
A keen short story writer his works have appeared in several anthologies and his non-fiction works on the ABC Website Unleashed, Sunday Life Magazine, The Australian Skeptic and The Canberra Times.
In 2010 he established the national short story competition “Stringybark Stories.” Since inception it has awarded over $30,000 in prizes and published over 1100 short stories in 39 paperbacks and 39 ebooks. Details can be found on the website: www.stringybarkstories.net He has been fortunate to win a few short story competitions, including the Thunderbolt Prize for non-fiction in 2019 and then as runner up in 2020. He is the principal of Stringybark Publishing, a bespoke publisher that specializes in memoir, history and anthologies. See: www.stringybarkpublishing.com.au. David has served on the ACT Writers Centre Board since 2012 and was the Chair from 2014-19.
Natalie Prior | Poetry
Natalie Jane Prior is the author of many favourite children’s books including the Lily Quench series, The Paw and most recently, the Naughty Dragons series. She co-edited (with Margaret Connolly) the children’s poetry anthology A Boat of Stars (ABC Books, 2018), which featured new poetry and artwork by many of Australia’s best known children’s authors and illustrators. Natalie lives in Brisbane with her family.
Linda Brandon | New England Award
Linda Brandon is a writer living in northern NSW. Linda has twice been highly commended in the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing and has been shortlisted for the Alan Marshall Short Story Award.
She has been highly commended in several Stringybark Stories short story competitions and published in the anthologies A Nice Boy (2017), Longing for Solitude (2016) and The Ghostly Stringybark (2015).
Xavier Masson-Leach | Emerging Author
Xavier Masson-Leach grew up in Armidale, NSW and comes from a family of creative people. He is a video producer and editor and has worked for a number of television production companies, arts organisations and non profits both in Australia and overseas. He is also married into an Iranian family whose incredible courage and resilience are the basis for this piece. He lives in Sydney with his beautiful wife and three year old daughter.
Isabelle Schubert is a 14-year-old home-schooler who loves books. She lives in a small, historic town in the Barossa Valley, South Australia. Last year she received a commendation in the New England Thunderbolt Prize for Crime Writing with a fictional story. She is a black belt in Kenpo Karate and likes writing, reading, sewing and history. She aspires to have a career as an author.